Jeff Flake: Barack Obama "Was Born in the United States"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 17 2011 12:14 PM

Jeff Flake: Barack Obama "Was Born in the United States"

See? This isn't very hard . Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., now a U.S. Senate candidate, asked about Public Policy Polling's birther poll by CNN's Kiran Chetry:

CHETRY: You basically have a combined 70 percent of people who don't strongly believe that the president was born in the United States. What is your reaction?

FLAKE : Well, I have a hard time believing that poll. I think that most people understand and accept the reality. The reality is that, yes, he was born in the United States. And so I hope that's not an issue going forward.

CHETRY: The alarming part, I guess, I mean, you can say you don't believe this poll, but they've asked people this ever since this "birther movement" started getting more attention. And it's actually grown. The number of people who don't believe that the president was born in the United States among a certain segment of the population has grown. Why do you think or do you think there's not enough, I guess pushback, from elected members and from our politicians to say that this simply isn't true? Do you think that for some people fanning the flames of this is actually politically helpful?

FLAKE : It's not. If you want pushback, I'll give it right now. Barack Obama is a citizen of the country. We ought to get off this kick. And there are plenty of differences we have with the president between Republicans and Democrats than to spend time on something like this.

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Flake is not the first Republican to say this, but Will Saletan was right when he pointed out how weird it was that John Boehner et al wouldn't knock the question down. On Fox News last night, Karl Rove had a good explanation of why they don't:

But a good way of short-circuiting the Democratic trick would be to answer the damn question authoritatively.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.